Southwest Airlines has decided not to serve alcohol on flights this summer, because the airline doesn’t think passengers are capable of behaving.
Southwest backtracks on service resumptions
Airlines cut a majority of inflight service at the start of the pandemic, though we’ve seen airlines slowly add back service, as the situation becomes more under control thanks to widespread vaccination.
Last week Southwest announced that it would resume selling alcohol on flights as of this summer, as the company looked to restore “more elements of Southwest hospitality that customers know and love.”
Well, not so fast, apparently. Southwest is indefinitely postponing the sale of alcohol inflight. Southwest’s head of inflight operations, Sonya Lacore, explains that “based on the rise in passenger disruptions in flight,” she has “made the decision to re-evaluate the restart of alcohol service on board.”
This follows a Southwest flight attendant recently being physically assaulted by a passenger, even knocking out two of her teeth. The passenger had repeatedly ignored instructions about wearing seatbelts, putting tray tables upright, etc.
Is alcohol the problem?
Some of the passenger behavior we’ve seen in recent months has been absolutely awful. The latest incident we’ve seen of a Southwest flight attendant being assaulted disgusts me. We’ve seen a rise in air rage incidents, and I commend the FAA for cracking down on this, and taking a zero-tolerance approach.
That being said, I’m not sure alcohol is the problem here, or even that alcohol would make things worse? Let’s keep in mind that a vast majority of the incidents we’ve seen during the pandemic don’t involve alcohol, since they’ve happened while airlines have offered almost no service. Heck, the only “under the influence” story I’ve seen recently is about a guy who brought his own cocaine onto a flight.
Many people are on edge and stressed when they get on a plane nowadays, and just have a bad attitude. It has been a tough year. Maybe a drink will help some people calm their nerves and not act like morons?
With that in mind:
- While air rage incidents have increased, we’re talking about a tiny percentage of passengers overall
- I think restoring somewhat of a sense of normality inflight could cause these incidents to decrease, rather than increase
- Of course that won’t be the case across the board, but I don’t think offering to sell each passenger a single drink will have catastrophic implications
Southwest Airlines was supposed to resume inflight alcohol sales as of June, but the airline has backtracked. This is due to a rise in air rage incidents, including a Southwest flight attendant being physically assaulted last week.
While I see where Southwest is coming from, this is a case where I’m not sure alcohol is the problem? Virtually all of the air rage incidents we’ve seen have occurred without airlines serving alcohol, and that didn’t seem to do the trick.
What do you make of Southwest continuing to suspend its alcohol service?